New Shore Leave event to explore impact of fishing, climate change on Mid West oceans

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
The countdown is on for the highly anticipated Shore Leave festival, with organisers announcing a brand new event will feature in this year’s action-packed lineup of activities.
Camera IconThe countdown is on for the highly anticipated Shore Leave festival, with organisers announcing a brand new event will feature in this year’s action-packed lineup of activities. Credit: Liam Beatty/Geraldton Guardian

The countdown is on for the highly anticipated Shore Leave festival, with organisers announcing a brand new event will feature in this year’s action-packed lineup of activities.

Free to attend, the Sustainable Futures event will give guests the chance to quiz experts on the challenges affecting the Mid West’s oceans, and what consumers can do to ensure the region’s natural resources are kept safe for generations to come.

Contributing to the debate will be Department of Fisheries scientists Dr Nick Caputi, Scott Evans and Nick Konzewitsch, Geraldton Fisherman’s Co-op chief executive Matt Rutter, and Marine Stewardship Council senior fisheries program manager Matt Watson.

Mr Watson said he will be discussing how the MSC rewards sustainable fishing practices and the influence consumers can have on these practices.

“Consumers are so powerful that their buying power can have a butterfly effect and change fishing performance at sea,” he said.

“I think we are in a luxurious position where we want to know more about our food and we are more critical of those that provide our food choices.”

MSC Australia's Fisheries Manager Matt Watson in the Abrolhos Octopus office on Wednesday. (In the background is Abrolhos Octopus' Sasha Stephens.)
Picture: Geoff Vivian The Geraldton Guardian
Camera IconMarine Stewardship Council senior fisheries program manager Matt Watson. Credit: Geoff Vivian/The Geraldton Guardian

Mr Watson said there had been a “generation shift” towards supporting sustainable fishing practices of late.

“There is an increase in awareness with millennials and generation Z, and that is not to say the older generations didn’t care, sustainability has just become more of a feature in our education,” he said.

The Mid West has been largely compliant with the MSC’s sustainable fishing criteria, but Mr Watson said other environmental factors continued to pose a threat to local fisheries.

“The thing we cant control is climate change and we have seen recently with the Abrolhos scallops, they are not fishing for the next season because of changes in oceanic temperatures,” he said.

“So even though businesses are doing the right thing in terms of their management, they are still impacted by the bigger picture issues like climate change.”

Mr Watson said locals should not be afraid to ask questions of presenters during the forum, saying “alternative points of view” were welcome.

The event is being held at The Gerald Hotel on April 29, with doors open from 1pm.

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